Desert Hills looking for new football coach after firing Franke

Former Desert Hills head coach Carl Franke, file photo from Desert Hills vs. Ridgeline, Football, St. George, Utah, Nov. 4, 2016, | Photo by Robert Hoppie, ASPpix.com, St. George News

ST. GEORGE – Desert Hills High School is looking for a new head football coach after Carl Franke was relieved of his duties Wednesday.

Desert Hills head coach Carl Franke | Photo by Robert Hoppie, ASPpix.com, St. George News

Franke, who was the head coach for the Thunder for six years, compiled a record of 50-20 (71.4 winning percentage), including an impressive 11-4 record (73.3 percent) in the state playoffs. Franke’s teams won state championships in 2013 and 2016, notably winning both contests over region rival Pine View on the last play of the game.

The Desert Hills administration, through athletic director Troy Coil, released the following statement:

As you may have heard today, the administration at Desert Hills High School has elected to make a change to our football program. We would like to thank Coach Franke and his staff for their time and efforts with our student/athletes over the last six years. It is truly appreciated. We will open the position in the next couple of weeks and anticipate a selection to facilitate a smooth transition moving forward.”

When queried on if he could comment on the reason for Franke’s dismissal, Coil replied, “Not at this time.”

Coach Carl Franke, Desert Hills vs. Pine View, 2013 state 3AA football championship, Nov. 22, 2013 | Photo by Robert Hoppie, St. George News

Desert Hills principal Rusty Taylor said the move is part of the business of running a school.

“Every year, with all the coaches in every sport, we look at the programs and evaluate if that’s what’s best for that program,” he said. “We felt like the football program was ready for a change. There was nothing specific. We just felt like it was time for a change.”

Franke coached many outstanding athletes while at Desert Hills, including Mike Needham and Ty Rutledge, who both went on to star for Southern Utah University, and Nephi and Gabriel Sewell, who were stars for the University of Nevada. More recently, Franke has aided in the recruitment process for his senior offensive lineman, Penei Sewell. Sewell is being recruited by such banner NCAA football programs as Alabama and USC, among many others.

Despite that, Taylor said the timing was right for the change.

“Their season just wrapped up and they were able to finish with their banquet,” he said. “And the hiring season is coming up for us starting in February and March. If there is ever a down time for football it is right about now. If we were going to make this decision, this is the best time to do it so that those who may be interested in filling the position will be able put things together.”

Franke said the decision was a bit stunning to him.

“We met yesterday after school and when they told me they were going to go a different direction, I was a little bit stubborn at first,” he said. “Obviously, with all the work I’ve put into program to make it so it’s really well run and and respected around the state, I was not ready to let that go.”

Coach Carl Franke addresses his team, Desert Hills state championship celebration, St. George, Utah, Nov. 25, 2013 | Photo by John Teas, St. George News

He said after discussing the situation with his family, he was ready to accept his new role.

“Right now, I’m going to stay here at Desert Hills, teaching and being supportive to the students and athletes here,” he said. “I’ll always be Coach Franke and my door will always be open for those that need some counsel or someone to talk to.” 

Last season, the Thunder went 6-5, placing third in Region 9 behind Dixie and Pine View. Desert Hills defeated Bonneville 45-13 in the first round of the 4A playoffs, but were then eliminated by Orem 37-17, despite outgaining the Tigers and rushing for 333 yards.

Franke, who teaches physical education and weight training at the high school, will retain his position as a teacher.

As for the future, Taylor and his staff will begin a statewide search for a new coach, while Franke is keeping his options open.

“I’m not going to jab at just any coaching job,” he said. “Already, in just the last day or so I’ve gotten a lot of offers and opportunities. But we love it here. My wife’s from here and my kids love living here, so it would have to be a vertical move, not a lateral move for me to be interested. I know I’m a good coach and still have a lot more to offer, teaching and influencing young men.”

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Twitter: @oldschoolag

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1 Comment

  • Craig January 17, 2018 at 9:51 pm

    Carl Franke and the Desert Hills Football staff will forever be in our hearts. My wife, Wendy, and I will never be able to repay our debt of gratitude and appreciation for Carl, Gabe Sewell, Nick Hansen, Henry Lusk, Jace MacArthur, and many others. Our respect and love for these men has nothing to do with football and everything to do with the blessings our family has received through Carl and his crew. It has everything to do with the authentic, tangible, and measurable character they instilled in my son Cobie. We admire and cherish the man our son has become under their tutelage and care. As a Desert Hills football player, Cobie learned to embrace adversity with poise and dignity, he learned the value of trust and faith, and he learned the real world value of hard work and commitment. He learned accountability, servant leadership, and humility. He learned discipline and earning success. He learned to cast a big vision with solid goals and concrete strategies to fulfill the goals. He learned to believe in himself, his teammates, and his coaches and give his whole heart. Carl Franke and the coaches of Thunder Family are legacy builders. They poured themselves out to develop young men of integrity, purpose, and character. Meaning, whoever Cobie chooses to marries will directly benefit from the selfless investment of these great men. Whats more, we believe that Cobie’s children will benefit from the instruction, care, and diligence of these incredible men. From our perspective, Carl and the staff helped Wendy and I to raise up our son to be a man of valor, honor, and solid character. They are “legacy leaders,” set on raising up and sending out young men who will Impact the lives of many. We couldn’t be more proud of Cobie, and we openly acknowledge that Thunder Football was a big part of his growth and maturation. Football is secondary to these faithful coaches, and instructing young men to be their best and make a difference in the world is FIRST. We believe Cobie’s future employers will benefit from the principles taught by Carl Franke and his staff. And if Cobie decides to launch his own business, I can guarantee the values he learned under Carl Franke, Gabe Sewell, and Nick Hansen will bless his employees and customers too! Thunder Family was built on a remarkable vision backed by the blood, sweat, and tears of dedicated men who clearly know their position of influence and took it seriously. What we witnessed and experienced in the growth of our son over the last three years under Carl will forever be appreciated by the Rogers’ Family. My youngest son, Caleb, a Sophomore, was just beginning to grow by being a part of Thunder Family. It’s sad to think it’s over. However, we have so much faith in Thunder Football we are eager to see how Coach Franke Et Al will use the adversity of this situation to teach one more valuable lesson to the boys. I have unshakable faith that each member of the Thunder Family will not only rebound, but will end up gaining a better position and enjoy greater prosperity. They will demonstrate the values they taught. This dismissal will not be a end, it will be the start of something spectacular. The football program lucky enough to add any of these men to their coaching staff will quickly come to understand what I have written here. I hope and pray that in the pursuit of hiring the next Thunder Head Coach the DHHS administration will find someone with the skill set to build on the foundation laid by Coach Franke and his staff. It will be a tall order, a miracle even. We will remain hopeful as the transition plays out. As far as my son Caleb is concerned, he has a great opportunity to learn that life is not fair and good people make dumb choices. He will learn that he has make a choice, he learn that he must forge on toward accomplishing his goals, and he will learn to make the best of a bad situation – or not! Where he will play football next year, or even play at all, will be his decision. I’m hoping that he will honor Coach Franke and the rest of the staff by embracing the adversity with boldness and vigor, using it as fuel to grow stronger – they would want that… Craig Rogers

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